Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I think this is a good way of getting the underpriviledged involved in renewable energy and becoming part of the post-carbon economy that the developed countries are moving towards. No one should be left behind :-)
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Keep those hands clean... this reminds me of the Washy washy clean song (pls excuse the English) that the Singapore government recently introduced to the kids during the H1N1 outbreak.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Part A: Introduction - an introduction to the concept of greening meetings, and the benefits this can bring to the organisers, especially UN organisations.
Part B: Management and Communication – guidance on management and communication aspects of greening meetings.
Part C: Greening your meeting – an overview of the key environmental impacts of a meeting, and how these may be minimised - especially venue selection, accommodation, catering, local transportation, logistics.
Part D: Climate neutrality – proposals for offsetting greenhouse gas emissions generated by a meeting, especially through the impacts of long-distance travel in order to leave a positive “Climate Legacy”.
Part E: The Greening Meetings Checklist - detailed greening recommendations for the day to day preparation of a meeting.
I cringed a little when it came to the section on choosing the location of the meeting. As you know, the Climate Change meeting will be in Copanhagen . .... well, everyone is flying there. The report recommends that participants offset carbon emissions. Then there's the issue about staying in 4 or 5 star hotels. It says "The more luxurious a hotel is, the higher the consumption of water. On average, hotel consumption of water per guest is 220 litres; this goes up to 520 litres in 4 and 5 stars hotels - the main consumption of water is due to wellness centres, swimming pools and laundry services."
Apple core - 8 weeks
Orange peel and banana skins - 2 years
Cigarette end - 18 months to 500 years
Plastic bag - 10 to 20 years
A plastic bottle - 450 years
Chewing gum - 1 million years
Yes, says Chris Packham
Chris Packham is a naturalist and presenter of Autumnwatch
==========================I don't want the panda to die out. I want species to stay alive – that's why I get up in the morning. I don't even kill mosquitoes or flies. So if pandas can survive, that would be great. But let's face it: conservation, both nationally and globally, has a limited amount of resources, and I think we're going to have to make some hard, pragmatic choices.
The truth is, pandas are extraordinarily expensive to keep going. We spend millions and millions of pounds on pretty much this one species, and a few others, when we know that the best thing we could do would be to look after the world's biodiversity hotspots with greater care. Without habitat, you've got nothing. So maybe if we took all the cash we spend on pandas and just bought rainforest with it, we might be doing a better job.
Of course, it's easier to raise money for something fluffy. Charismatic megafauna like the panda do appeal to people's emotional side, and attract a lot of public attention. They are emblematic of what I would call single-species conservation: ie a focus on one animal. This approach began in the 1970s with Save the Tiger, Save the Panda, Save the Whale, and so on, and it is now out of date. I think pandas have had a valuable role in raising the profile of conservation, but perhaps "had" is the right word.
Panda conservationists may stand up and say, "It's a flagship species. We're also conserving Chinese forest, where there is a whole plethora of other things." And when that works, I'm not against it. But we have to accept that some species are stronger than others. The panda is a species of bear that has gone herbivorous and eats a type of food that isn't all that nutritious, and that dies out sporadically. It is susceptible to various diseases, and, up until recently, it has been almost impossible to breed in captivity. They've also got a very restricted range, which is ever decreasing, due to encroachment on their habitat by the Chinese population. Perhaps the panda was already destined to run out of time.
Extinction is very much a part of life on earth. And we are going to have to get used to it in the next few years because climate change is going to result in all sorts of disappearances. The last large mammal extinction was another animal in China – the Yangtze river dolphin, which looked like a worn-out piece of pink soap with piggy eyes and was never going to make it on to anyone's T-shirt. If that had appeared beautiful to us, then I doubt very much that it would be extinct. But it vanished, because it was pig-ugly and swam around in a river where no one saw it. And now, sadly, it has gone for ever.
I'm not trying to play God; I'm playing God's accountant. I'm saying we won't be able to save it all, so let's do the best we can. And at the moment I don't think our strategies are best placed to do that. We should be focusing our conservation endeavours on biodiversity hotspots, spreading our net more widely and looking at good-quality habitat maintenance to preserve as much of the life as we possibly can, using hard science to make educated decisions as to which species are essential to a community's maintenance. It may well be that we can lose the cherries from the cake. But you don't want to lose the substance. Save the Rainforest, or Save the Kalahari: that would be better.
No, says Mark Wright
Dr Mark Wright is chief scientist at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
You are reading this because it is about giant pandas. We could have this argument about the frogs of the rainforest, and the issues would be identical, but the ability to get people's attention would be far lower. So in that sense, yes you could argue that conservationists capitalise on the panda's appeal.
And, to be fair, I can understand where Chris is coming from. Everywhere you look on this planet there are issues to be addressed and we have finite resources. So we do make really horrible choices. But nowadays, almost exclusively, when people work in conservation they focus on saving habitats.
Chris has talked about pandas being an evolutionary cul-de-sac, and it's certainly unusual for a carnivore to take up herbivory. But there are many, many other species that live in a narrowly defined habitat. When he says that if you leave them be, they will die out, that's simply not true. If we don't destroy their habitat they will just chunter along in the same way that they have for the thousands of years.
And besides, in terms of its biodiversity and the threats it faces, I think that the part of China where pandas live should be on the preservation list anyway. The giant panda shares its habitat with the red panda, golden monkeys, and various birds that are found nowhere else in the world.
The giant panda's numbers are increasing in the wild, so I don't see them dying out, and I haven't heard anything to suggest that other biodiversity isn't thriving equally.
It is true, though, that there some some cases where preserving an animal is not the best use of resources. If you asked 100 conservationists – even at WWF – you would probably get 90 different answers, but look at what happened with the northern white rhino in Africa, which we're pretty sure has died out. We lament its loss. But at the same time it had got to the stage where the likelihood of success was at a critically low level. If you were doing a battlefield triage system – the rhino would probably have had to be a casualty.
Otherwise, charismatic megafauna can be extremely useful. Smaller creatures often don't need a big habitat to live in, so in conservation terms it's better to go for something further up the food chain, because then by definition you are protecting a much larger area, which in turn encompasses the smaller animals.
And of course they are an extraordinarily good vehicle for the messages we want to put out on habitat conservation. Look at Borneo, where you instantly think of the orang-utans. In the southern oceans, you think of the blue whale. Then there are polar bears in the north. There are things you pull out from the picture because people can relate to them. And it does make a difference.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Go check it out. I think it gives people a different perspective of what companies really do. OK, Exxon Mobil and Nestle are well-known evils, but some of us may have been tricked into believing all the greenwashing e.g. Wal-mart.
(Image via The Guardian, UK)
Although, many companies have a corporate social responsibility programme of some sorts, the corporate seems to be over emphasised, while the social bit is probably a paper exercise which gets pushed to the back burner until the auditors or media come in ("quick, get the file out!"). The big oil companies are probably the worst. Yes, they might have a renewable energy section, and yes, they are looking at alternatives. BUT, it doesn't change the overall direction the companies are taking, which is oil, oil and even more oil. Then, there are the companies that started with good ethics, such as The Body Shop, Ben & Jerry's and Burt's Bees, only to be sold to the corporate giants who may not share the same principles but want a big share of the environmental movement (ie. jumping onto the green band wagon).
(Image via Tree Hugger)
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
But there are designers who understand the need to make use of every bit of the fabric. There's one guy who uses the method of subtraction cutting.... and Timo Rissanen studies how to reduce waste from fashion creation.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Update on 23 Oct 2011 - ha ha ha, after searching, I finally found the photo where you can see me in the original boat-necked dress. Gosh, it took me THAT long to find it!
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
This is a great poem from the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD). The Tang Dynasty was a great period for China: stability and progress, while the arts flourished. Most of the Tang poems use a lot of nature as the backdrop, like mountains, clouds, bamboo, flowers and trees.
This poem by Bai Ju Yi tells us not to abuse animals (well, in this case birds). I'm not a good translator but basically it says:
The life of a bird is no smaller than a human. They are of flesh and blood just like us. Do not abuse the new born chicks, for they are awaiting their mother's return.
I remember a few incidents in Singapore where cats and dogs were found abused. It was unacceptable to Bai Ju Yi over 1000 years ago, and it should remain socially unacceptable today.
Report animal abuse :
SPCA - call 6287 5355.
Singapore passed laws in 2002 to raise the maximum fines and jail terms for animal-cruelty offences to $10,000 and 12 months respectively.Pic - Wikipedia
Friday, September 4, 2009